Growing up Florida friendly

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A new illustrated children’s book that explains the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) — aims to help grade school students learn how they can garden at home with yards that not only thrive, they also help protect Florida’s waterways. The book is titled “Growing Up Florida-Friendly.

In the book, characters Flory, Russell and Harriett go on a journey through Florida-Friendly Landscaping and learn the importance of keeping Florida’s water clean and protecting natural resources.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) is a program from UF/IAS for teaching Florida residents and business owners to utilize low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices to create and maintain a beautiful landscape. Following the FFL nine principles help save time, energy and money while protecting Florida’s delicate ecosystems using research-based, environmentally-sustainable gardening techniques.

The children’s book was written and illustrated by two women from UF/IFAS who are Florida Master Gardener Volunteers.

“There aren’t many resources for children that speak to this topic on a friendly, easy to apply level,” said Kim Pepitone Cottrell, Florida Master Gardener Volunteer, and the book’s author. “Evelyn, the book’s illustrator, took my idea and brought it to life. Readers will follow Flory, an orange blossom, on a journey with Russell and Harriet through the nine FFL principles.”

“From the get-go, it is important for kids to understand the connection to science when they talk about plants and gardening,” said Cottrell. “We want to teach children from the beginning that they can make a positive impact on our environment, even when gardening in their own backyards.”

The book asks it’s readers to join in and to become “FFL kids,” helping them learn how they can play a role in saving Florida’s waterways.

“All roads lead to the aquifer, and we have to protect our natural resources,” Cottrell said. “Taking responsibility for behavior from the beginning forms good habits that children will carry into the future. Everything you do can have a positive or negative impact on our environment. This book helps kids see the positive outcomes they can have.”

“I loved creating the graphics,” said Evelyn Lavaughn Davis, the book’s illustrator and Master Gardener Volunteer. “I am a substitute teacher and see the need for more Florida living education in our schools that can help children and their parents understand best practices.”

“I want children to understand the impact humans have on what makes Florida a beautiful state to live in,” Davis said. “I hope outdoor experiences will inspire them to be good stewards of the land.”

The book is excellent for integration into a classroom curriculum or even for at home reading with the family. Bulk order discounts are available for classroom use. To order “Growing Up FFL,” visit the IFAS/UF Bookstore website: http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/p-1538-growing-up-florida-friendly.aspx.

Submitted photo: Evelyn Lavaughn Davis, the book’s illustrator and Master Gardener Volunteer.

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